Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Iyar 5760 - May 31, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Lebanon Collapses and the Window of Opportunity Closes

Once again it became clear last week as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the South Lebanon Army (SLA) ran for their lives that Israel is not able to "take its lot into its own hands," as the Zionists always proudly proclaimed they would. Though Prime Minister Ehud Barak huffed that everything that happened was "foreseen" it was clear that they had not planned to pull troops out of Lebanon on five minutes' notice, leaving personal effects and equipment behind for the Lebanese guerrillas.

Most evident was the incredible detachment of Ehud Barak who cannot see anything but his own plans. Though Barak has declared all along that the IDF would leave Lebanon a year after his election, with or without an agreement, he was so convinced of his ability to reach an agreement with Syria that no serious preparations for leaving were made until that possibility became moot after the Clinton-Assad summit in Geneva in March.

No beginning was made in protection of the settlements along the new border, no plans and preparations were made for the thousands of soldiers of the SLA, no changes were made in the strategic thinking of the army to seriously confront the new situation. These were all steps that would have to be taken whether or not there was an agreement with Syria, and they could have been started in time enough to produce serious results before the rapid events of last week.

Just as Barak made his plans for a Syrian settlement without really taking Syria into account, the IDF made its plans for withdrawing from south Lebanon without seriously thinking how the Lebanese and the Hizbullah fighters would behave, and how the SLA troops would react. They thought only of their abilities to withstand military attacks, but never considered that the guerrilla fighters would mingle with returning villagers and enter the area without brandishing their weapons.

Perhaps it was easier for a Labor government to withdraw from Lebanon because the Likud originally established the zone, but it is clear that there is no turning back the clock and the future of Israel's northern border is clouded with uncertainty. It is unlikely to stay quiet for long and, despite Israel's tough talk about responding in force from behind the international border, it is far from believable that they will be able to do so. A few months from now, when the situation is no longer fresh and Israel's position behind the northern border is perceived as its natural place, it will no longer be so easy for it to attack across the border without a serious provocation.

Of more concern is the effect that the Hizbullah victory will have on our other neighbors. Can any of them now afford to settle for less than the guerrillas won? Can Arafat compromise for peace if Arab fighters in Lebanon have achieved complete victory? Can Syria, a proud, sovereign state, accept anything less than its ragged Hizbullah proxies in Lebanon did? It looks very much like the "window of opportunity" that Barak spoke of when he was elected has closed.

Our main task now is to countdown to Shavuos, and to remember that Hashem figures all the details and moves things as He wills. It is a humbling thought that it would be nice to see among our leaders.

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